Though we keep track of video card pricing regularly on an internal basis, it’s not something we normally publish outside of our semi-regular buyer’s guides. More often than not video card pricing is slow to move (if it moves at all), as big price shifts come in concert with either scheduled price cuts or new product introductions. But in a process that has defied our expectations for more than a month now, even we can’t fail to notice what Radeon prices are quite literally up to.

In a sign of the daffy times we live in, Radeon R9 290X prices have hit $900 this week at Newegg. Every card, from the reference models to the water block model, is now at $899, with Newegg apparently doing brisk enough business to be sold out of more than half of their different 290X SKUs. This of course is some $350 over the 290X’s original launch price of $550, a 64% price bump. Meanwhile the Radeon R9 290 has been similarly affected, with 290 cards starting at $600, $200 (50%) over MSRP.

The culprit, as has been the case since the start, continues to be the strong demand for the cards from cryptocoin miners, who are willing to pay a premium for the cards in anticipation of still being able to turn a profit off of them in the long run. Interestingly this also comes right as Chinese New Year comes to a close. Chinese New Year doesn’t typically affect video card prices for cards that are already released and on shelves, but the lack of production for the roughly 2 week span certainly isn’t doing the 290X market any favors given the strong demand for the cards. In the meantime however this does mean that 290X cards are unfortunately priced out of the hands of gamers more than ever before; at $900, we’d be just $10 short of a GTX 780 Ti and a Core i5-4670K to go with it.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that this phenomena remains almost entirely limited to North America. Our own Ian Cutress quickly checked a couple of UK retailers, and, and found that both of them had 290 series cards in stock at pre-VAT prices that were only marginally above the North American MSRPs. A PowerColor R9 290 OC can be found for £275 (~$460 USD) and an XFX R9 290X for £334 (~$560 USD). The European market of course has its own idiosyncrasies, but ultimately it’s clear that UK pricing has gone largely unaffected by the forces that have driven up North American pricing, making this one of those rare occasions where hardware is more expensive in North America than in Europe, even after taxes.

Radeon R9 290 Series Prices
  North America UK (excluding VAT)
Radeon R9 290X $899 £334 (~$560 USD)
Radeon R9 290 $599 £275 (~$460 USD)

Update (11:30 PM): It’s interesting just how greatly things can shift in only half a day. This morning 290X prices were $899 with Newegg having 5 models in stock. But as of late this evening prices have dropped rather quickly by $200, bringing them down to $699 (just $150 over MSRP). All the while however, Newegg’s selection has dwindled to just two models, showcasing just how high the demand for these cards is and how quickly buyers will snatch them up even when they’re still well over MSRP.

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  • Death666Angel - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    "I think there's a supply issue with AMD chips/cards as well playing a part in this."
    You realize that you are describing the most basic economic principle, right? There is clearly high demand for AMD cards in NA because of cryptocoin mining. But that would be no issue if the supply was equally high or higher. Since it isn't, that constitutes as a supply issue. Duh.
  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Cryptocoin mining isn't a new phenomenon, there was obviously plenty of supply before Hawaii to keep the miners and gamers satisfied. This insane price gouging only occurred after Hawaii, which has been notoriously scarce on the market. Point is production is LOWER than previous AMD high-end parts, coupled with high demand this is what is leading to a much steeper spike on the supply/demand curve. I know a basic economic principle that you apparently glossed over. Duh.

    We know for a fact they are not selling more GPUs at a higher price, ie. more supply and more demand, because their QoQ GPU revenues were down but their margins were up. I am sure we will see more of the same in Q1, don't be surprised to see much higher ASPs and margins btw.
  • yuhong - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I think it started around the time Bitcoin/Litecoin prices increased in November. I hope AMD will respond by increasing production of the cards.
  • chizow - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Yes it did, but Hawaii was already scarce and AMD started ramping down and fire-selling their old lines of GPUs (7950/7970 could be had for dirt cheap, like $150 for 7950 and $250 for 7970). But something happened in AMD's supply chain and they didn't ramp Hawaii enough and even 280X became scarce and price was quickly jacked up.
  • Observanator - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    How do you know for a fact that AMD started ramping down Hawaii chips? I see you are very active on the comments and trying really hard to prove that this is all some sort of AMD' scheme to increase the price. Instead of just casting baseless claims just go and read some of the comments people have left under review section of R9-290X board on NewEgg. You see quite few comments by miners who are saying they have mining rigs with 6 or more of these boards. If these guys are buying this number of R9-290X boards, the reason for increase in price is indeed crypto-currenty and nothing else.
  • chizow - Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - link

    I didn't say AMD was ramping down their Hawaii chips, if anything they have been doing their best to ramp them up, but Hawaii is also the biggest chip they have ever made and the hottest GPU ever created, so it would not surprise me if they were having trouble getting the yields they would like on it.

    They most likely ramped down Tahiti production prematurely, as they went into a firesale phase on 7950/7970 parts shortly after R9 280X launched instead of just rebadging those parts. You can verify this easily in any Hot Deals forum with 7950s hitting $150 and 7970s hitting $220. R9 280X stock quickly ran out, and only now are we getting the successor to the 7950 in the R9 280 (to be launched in a few weeks). Again, this coincides with the 8-10 weeks it would have taken AMD to bake new wafers at TSMC from that 1st week in December timeframe.

    I just find it amazing people think AMD is not profiting from this at all and also unfair to retailers like Newegg taking the blame, given the fact many GPUs have sold out instantly in the past due to incredibly high demand and the MSRP was never raised in such a manner. GTX 480, 580, 680 and even Titan all come to mind as examples from the last few years.
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    "I just don't buy the notion AMD isn't getting a cut of this cryptocoin price rush."

    Believe it. Like I said in an earlier post its been confirmed by multiple sources, including Anandtech. Retailers are seeing the benefits from the price hikes over MSRP, not AMD.

    Facepalm to the rest of your post.
  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Again, a single link would be great, I've seen plenty of links to the contrary.
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Really? Cause you didn't provide any.

    I've seen editors on Tom's say the same, but this is was the first example that came to mind. It's from Ryan Smith's most recent "Best Video Cards" article:

    "Truth be told we had figured this would blow over by now (if only due to increases in mining difficulty multipliers), but AMD card prices have held their inflated prices for almost two months now. Which on a side note is good for AMD – they’re clearly selling almost everything they can make – but it’s also not great because they’re not the one setting these new card prices, or the ones collecting the higher profit. The same goes for the partners, who are still selling the finished cards to retailers at normal prices. Instead the profit between MSRP and these inflated prices is being captured by retailers, which although is good for them (retail is a notoriously low margin business), it does mean that the always financially precarious AMD doesn’t get to further improve their balance sheets in the process."
  • chizow - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Sure here you go from their Q4 financials:

    "•GPU revenue decreased quarter on quarter and year over year due to lower unit volume shipments. Operating income was $22 million, compared to $18 million in the third quarter and $27 million in the same quarter a year ago."
    "◦GPU ASP increased sequentially and year-over-year. "

    Despite claims they sold out everything, their GPU revenue for Q4 was LOWER but their ASP was HIGHER both sequentially and YoY. If supply was not an issue and constant from Q3 as many here claim, they would have seen both HIGHER revenue AND higher ASP from their GPU division, especially given the fact they had two high-demand single GPU parts selling at higher prices than they have seen since the X1950XTX.

    Rumblings of AMD GPU shortages, even back in Dec. 9th. AMD sending their "top man" out to Asia to try and ramp up supply, probably a bit too little too late given these chips take months to bake.

    In summary, I think AMD is using cryptocoin and the blame vendors are getting as a convenient excuse for the supply shortages and price hikes so they don't look like the bad guy in all of this.

    I guarantee you we see even more of this in Q1 2014, flat or lower GPU revenue (AMD's own revenue guidance was -16%) but higher ASP and higher margins.

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